By: David Schmiege
The #1 reason in business customers stop doing business with a particular establishment is because of an attitude of indifference by employees. Imagine, then, how influential that first contact with a potential patient can be. A less than positive first impression might cause a patient not to schedule an initial consultation with your practice and instead call your competitor.
Do the personnel who answer your phones exude a positive attitude? If they don’t, service-oriented patients may choose to have their venous procedures elsewhere. That would be a problem so make sure the staff whom answer phones in your office:
- Put a smile in their voices. Research has shown that smiling projects a more positive and enthusiastic tone into the speaking voice. The caller will have a much more pleasant experience if your staff seems upbeat and helpful on the phone or in person. Reinforce to your staff that every patient should be treated like they are your most important patient.
- Have your staff introduce themselves and use the patient’s name in conversation. Names go a long way in personalizing the conversation. An old adage states, “There is no music sweeter to our ears than the sound of our own name.”
- Provide callers with a choice of consultation times. Experienced schedulers offer prospective patients a choice when arranging a consultation. For example, “Mary, you could come in at 10:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, or 1:30pm on Thursday, which time would be best for you?” This demonstrates your practice’s customer service orientation.
- Explain the purpose of the consultation. If the caller shows hesitation when you attempt to schedule the consultation, assure the caller that the consultation does not obligate the patient to schedule a procedure – explain that the consultation is an opportunity for the patient to determine if he or she feels comfortable with the physician’s clinical knowledge, interpersonal skills and their recommendation(s) for treatment.
- Be prepared to discuss fees. The receptionist or patient relations coordinator can rehearse appropriate responses to fee inquiries so that insurance coverages and payment options are explained in an understandable way. If your policy is to provide callers with a range of fees, make sure the receptionist has the list. If your policy precludes quoting fees, provide staff with a standard response to fee questions.
- Offer to mail or email information to all prospective patients. Volunteering to send patient information materials or directing them to your web site to view staff bios and patient testimonials prior to the consultation, will demonstrate your commitment to patient education. It also allows staff to obtain the prospective patient’s address for your files and add their contact information to your newsletter distribution list. Even prospective patients who do not schedule an appointment should be offered information. These people may call back at a later date to make an appointment or share the materials with friends and family members who are also interested in the procedure.
- Gather key data from each caller. Every caller should be asked for his/her demographic information and about how he/she was referred to the practice. Regardless of whether or not the caller decides to schedule the appointment, the information can be entered into your practice database for future mailings, and to track how many callers turn into patients, and/or schedule procedures. The purpose of tracking patient demographics and how they came to your practice is to identify the following metrics …
- Conversion ratios. Of the total callers each day, week or month, what % schedule a consultation? Of the consultations, what % schedule a procedure?
- Patient Acquisition Cost. This is the cost of your marketing campaign divided by the # of consultations billed.
- Revenue Per Patient. This is your monthly / quarterly or annual receipt total divided by the # of patients treated.